Pakistan police have booked two journalists on charges of sedition and terrorism for their alleged involvement in the violence that engulfed the country on May 9 following the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan, a media report said on Thursday. The Aabpara police station here registered the case against anchormen Sabir Shakir and Moeed Pirzada - and another individual - more than a month after the violence occurred, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Encouragement to create chaos in the country
The case was registered against the complaint of an unnamed citizen and includes various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code along with sections of anti-terrorism laws. The FIR claimed that on May 9, the complainant was present at Melody Chowk, where an angry mob vandalised property, taking instructions from Shakir, Pirzada and Syed Akbar Hussain via video messages, the report said.
The complainant claimed that the persons named in the FIR incited people to commit violence and encouraged them to attack the installations of the armed forces, spread terrorism, provoke mutiny and create chaos in the country. The case followed a similar FIR registered earlier this week where the police booked journalists Shaheen Sehbai and Wajahat Saeed Khan, as well as Army officer-turned-Youtuber Adil Raja and anchorperson Syed Haider Raza Mehdi, for "abetting mutiny" and inciting people to attack military installations across the country.
A case of stifling the media
Separately, global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged Pakistan to immediately dismiss the "ludicrous mutiny accusations in a complaint with no credibility" that an individual has brought against two journalists in the federal capital. Although manifestly absurd, the charges could carry the death penalty, it said.
"The statements made by the two former army officers on social media video channels may breach regulations governing military secrecy. But the two journalists have just practised journalism," the report said, adding that to "arbitrarily associate" the names of journalists with those of "rebel ex-army officers" is meant to intimidate the journalists into silence.
Civilians to face military trials for inciting violence
The statement also mentioned the case of Imran Riaz Khan, a TV news anchor and political commentator who has been missing for more than a month. The US also urged Pakistan to respect democratic principles and the rule of law, noting that civilians arrested for May 9 protests in Pakistan will face military trials.
"We are aware of the reports concerning civilians who will face military trials for their suspected involvement in the May 9th protest," State Department Spokesperson Mathew Miller told reporters in Washington on Tuesday. "We continue, as we have in the past, to urge Pakistani authorities to respect democratic principles and the rule of law for all people as enshrined in the country's constitution," Miller said.
What happened on May 9?
On May 9, violent protests erupted after the arrest of Khan by paramilitary Rangers in Islamabad. Workers from his party -- the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) -- allegedly vandalised over 20 military installations and government buildings, including the Lahore Corps Commander House, Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad.
The Army headquarters in Rawalpindi was also attacked by the mob for the first time. Khan was later released on bail. The violence elicited a strong reaction from the government and military with vows of taking action against the culprits, leading to an ongoing crackdown against those involved.
Law enforcement agencies have arrested over 10,000 workers of Khan's Pakistan party across Pakistan, 4,000 of them from Punjab province. The Punjab Home Department has constituted 10 different joint investigation teams to probe into the attacks and violent protests on May 9, which the army dubbed "Black Day".
Khan, 70, the chairman of PTI, is facing more than 100 cases across the country.
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